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We are society in which changes occur overnight and the media are our mirror image

29 December 2010 / 12:12:20  GRReporter
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Newspapermen and members of the other media in Greece have never based their activities on research. They have never heard the views of people scientifically engaged in the media. They thought we are theorists. I said the same things in 1993. I said that gifts will have temporary impact on circulation and then will be forgotten. And then, what will they offer the reader? If you do not make the reader to get used to reading newspapers, if they are not introduced in school programs, if you do not show young people what is the newspaper that they would leaf, how do you expect them to buy a newspaper at the age of 20-30? None of these things were done although they had the whole time before them. Actually, the decline in circulation of newspapers began with the advent of private television in the early 1990s.

Didn’t they receive government subsidies?

Government subsidies are much higher in other countries, such as Scandinavian ones. The media received part of government advertisements some time ago. Now, however, they declined. The situation is much more complex now.
The budget of the Central Secretariat for Communications and Media every year provides amounts for distributing the printed editions in the country and abroad. How would you comment this?

We are talking about support here. Newspapers do not receive money directly for that. Greece is a country of many mountains and islands. The press could be carried only by plane to many places to arrive on time. These funds are provided for this.

I read that some economic editions survive only thanks to the publications of companies’ balance sheets.

Yes, there are newspapers the circulation of which does not exceed 1000 units. According to their publishers, however, they have 10,000 subscribers. What does this mean? I could also say that my newspaper has 30,000 subscribers.

However, this is not so important in my opinion. The big problem is that the Greek market is small but there are many printed editions. There are over 20 central newspapers, over 280 local editions, 1200 radio stations, 160 national and local televisions and 800 magazines. And they all fight for their place on an 11-million market. A 12-million including immigrants, but they have their own newspapers and I think this reflects what happens in Greece. There are a lot of immigrants’ newspapers. Of course, they come from different countries, but not only one newspaper is published for each immigrant community. This is indicative of the situation in Greece and it could not happen in countries like France, Germany, England. Each community would publish one newspaper there although these countries are very big.

What actually caused the deep crisis in the Greek media?

The crisis in the Greek media is not due to only one factor. That's why this is the time of the "great shrinking" of the media market. It would be very difficult to keep the current situation especially having in mind that nothing has been done in the last 30 years. Changes in the media are like all the changes that will be made, for example in the closed professions, within a month. These are the correct steps but they are being made very quickly. We are talking about an overnight society.

How do you think private television appeared in Greece? In no time as we say. Private channels started springing up like mushrooms, no one knowing why and how. The then Minister said he would remove the satellites by plane, etc. That's the problem, I think. We do not foresee things, we are not far-sighted. That is why the country is in this financial situation. And the media, as I always say, reflect the Greek society. How many are the illegal buildings in Greece? They are many. We say that some do not pay their taxes and owe them. How many and who are they? I think it is wrong to believe that media are different. They are the mirror image of the Greek society.

What is your opinion of the state television ERT?

All of us, especially the journalists, could very easily attack ERT but I do not think it is less independent than private televisions. Just its owner is the state. Why we do not want to pay for it? A monthly fee that is worth a pack of cigarettes is not something frightening.

The following funding scheme could be applied: state taxes to go to state television and commercials – to private channels. This is how things are arranged in other European countries like England, France and Spain. I mean that whatever changes occur in the Greek national television they will come from major European countries. If ERT goes bankrupt, it would be an entirely different situation, because then the Greek state will go bankrupt too. Of course, reforms should be carried out. The state television of a small country like Greece is not possible to have so many channels and radio stations. But the way to carry out these reforms should be planned. I can not say whether one or another peripheral station must be closed or not. We should not make the same mistakes as in the past. I am constantly repeating that we should forget our analog past that was painful and tragic and we should finally build our digital future with prudence and rationalism. Digital future could hold all the media that want to operate under rules that will not be many and not too strict to be applied. And to begin with giving licenses to radio stations.

How many of them have no licenses now?

All of them. In 1998 the owners applied for licenses that are constantly being renewed. All that have applied are believed to work legally to the licenses issuance. This is ridiculous and should be stopped. It is part of our analog past which we should not be particularly proud of.

Tags: Economic crisisMediaNewspapersCirculationTelevisionsRadio stationsJournalistsCommercials
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